Wednesday 07th December 2016,

Indian American/ South Asian American

REPORT: Political Hate Rhetoric Catalyst for the Rise in Anti-Muslim American Acts

posted by Randall
Cover page for CAIR report-Confronting fearBy Ed Diokno
Being Muslim American already carries a decent amount of baggage.,” writes actor Aziz Ansari in a New York Times oped published over the weekend. “In our culture, when people think ‘Muslim,’ the picture in their heads is not usually of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the kid who left the boy band One Direction. It’s of a scary terrorist character from Homeland or some monster from the news.”

His fears are justified. A report from the UC Berkeley Center for Race & Gender done in collaboration with The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)  was released last week. Entitled Confronting Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States, reports the increase in hate crimes against Muslims or people mistaken as Muslims.

 The last two months of 2015 saw 34 incidents in which mosques were targeted by vandals or those who want to intimidate worshipers. This is more incidents than usually recorded in an entire year.Aziz Ansari

Islamophobia has unfortunately moved from the fringes of American society to the mainstream. Contenders for the office of the presidency have suggested un-constitutional policies such as banning all Muslims from the United States or suggesting that a Muslims could not be president of the United States. Elected officials in 10 states have enacted legislation designed to vilify or otherwise target Islam. In at least two states, the way school text books are selected was changed because some activists wrongly believe that introductory religious courses that teach children Islam’s five pillars are “indoctrination” and “proselytization.”

Islamophobic groups have enjoyed access to at least $205 million to spread fear and hatred of Muslims, says the report. Inner-core groups, which have a primary purpose to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, have seen an increase in total revenue from $42,692,945 in 2008 to $205,838,077 in 2013.

“The hate that these groups are funding and inciting is having real consequences like attacks on mosques all over the country and new laws discriminating against Muslims in America,” Corey Saylor, author of the report and director of CAIR’s department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, said in a statement.

He also said politics has played in a role in perpetuating the prejudice, including the rhetoric of the current U.S. presidential race.

“The 2016 presidential election has mainstreamed Islamophobia and resulted in a number of un-constitutional proposals targeting Muslims,” he said.“’Confronting Fear’ offers a plan for moving anti-Muslim bias back to the fringes of society where it belongs.”

The study examines two overlapping time periods: January 2015 through December 2015 and March 2015 through March 2016 (the 2016 presidential election season). It found approximately 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence: 12 murders; 34 physical assaults; 49 verbal assaults or threats against persons and institutions; 56 acts of vandalism.

Confronting Fear acknowledges that acts of violence committed in the name of Islam “have undoubtedly contributed to negative public perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the United States.”

However it states that Islam and Muslims “are more likely to be held collectively responsible for the actions of an aberrant few.”Muslim population

A goal of the report is to promote societal rejection of Islamophobia, as attrition in the acceptability of this form of prejudice would bring about change. It notes that societal rejection of the hate group Ku Klux Klan and its message resulted in less public support, visibility and impact.

“Islamophobia and groups that promote bias will likely always exist,” Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said in a statement. “But the current environment that grants anti-Islam prejudice social acceptability must change so that such bias is in the same social dustbin as white supremacism and anti-Semitism.”

“Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels. It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray,” writes Ansari, a comedian and actor, whose TV series Master of None received accolades for its depiction of people of color. “It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Edwin Chen says:

    RE: Political hate rhetoric catalyst for the rise in Anti-Muslim American acts: This is such an important civil rights issue facing our nation. How should we treat our muslim Americans? First and foremost, nobody cares about their rights to defend themselves with firearms. This even though Muslim Americans experience high rates violence. Second, look how many voters are vocal about their anti-Muslimism, and xenophobic views. This is directly seen with domestic antagonism against Muslim refugees coming to America, and the Western world. The evidence presented here highlights the fact that most Muslims are not terrorists, violent or a threat. If we discriminate and unfairly treat Muslims in the world, then they will become unified as a hostile threat against America and the western world.

  2. Lei S. says:

    RE: Political hate rhetoric catalyst for rise in anti-Muslim American acts: So, Edwin, you are essentially saying that Muslims are reactionary and will judge others as one big stereotyped group.
    Got it.

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